Sunday, October 2, 2016


I am a teacher.  I am also a mother, a wife, a woman, an advocate, a sister, a daughter, a granddaughter, a cousin, an aunt, a lover, a friend, a dog adopter, and many other titles.  There is not one title that defines us.  Now I am also a person with ALS.  
I am not sure why and how I am being so calm about the whole thing.  Granted Thursday and Friday of last week I was not calm.  I was a fuckin' mess, a blubbering idiot.  Numb one minute, and hysterical the next.  Now I feel calm.  Maybe because reality hasn't set in, or because now that I finally know what it is that has weakened my body I feel empowered.  I don't know.  I don't really care why, but I feel calm.  I sat with some close friends over bagels and treats this morning and spoke about all of it without crying.  And for those who know me, I cry over EVERYTHING!  Maybe it is survival mode.  Who cares, right?  It feels good to be calm.  
I have received such wonderful, caring messages from friends, family, and acquaintances.  It makes me remember how much good there is in the world, and how I believe that people are instinctively kind. Lately, in today's political and world climate, it is has been hard to see that.  I am lucky because I get to see it every day.  I see it in the young children I teach, the people I teach with, and the kindness that has been shown to me.  
Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - begins this evening at sundown.  It represents a fresh start, a time to reflect on the previous year and all you have done, and see how you can make the next one better.  Rosh Hashanah always seemed like the holiday that was perfect for teachers.  Teachers get a fresh start every September - a new group of kids, sometimes a new curriculum, or even if its the same curriculum the opportunity to reflect on how it was taught last year, and work on making this year even better.  Getting this diagnosis is like getting a fresh start.  I know, it seems like a stretch.  Hear me out.  Getting this diagnosis I get to reflect on what is going well in my life, and the things I would like to change.  I get to stop putting things off.  I am going to eat the chocolate cake and go to the zoo (without judgment - that is for my kids!) when I want to.  I am going to tell people how much I care for them, even if it makes them uncomfortable.  Why wait?  
I am a teacher.  This diagnosis is one giant teachable moment.  How I handle crisis and illness, how I handle difficulties and potentially embarrassing situations, is something that will be observed by my children, my students, and my community at large.  It is my opportunity to continue to make an impact.  I want to be able to laugh at myself, and show determination.  Yes, I do feel sorry for myself. Yes, I have said why me.  I don't think I would be human if I didn't.  And who knows - three months down the road I could have a totally have a different perspective.  Right now, in this moment in time, I am a teacher.  And I will continue to be so as long as I can.


  1. Deb - You are a bastion of strength. I admire you as a role model and a mensch. Wishing you a sweet year. L'Shana Tova. Love, Lisa

  2. I am continually amazing at your ability to not wallow in self pity and seek the positive. I ask myself if I were in your shoes would I be able to do the same. I truly don't know the answer.
    I am fortunate to know you albeit only through the union. I remember working through issues at Sharon and at large and being impressed by your thinking and determination.
    Thank you.

  3. What a model of strength, courage and character you are Debbie Dauer. And what an impact you have made on me. The truth is we live each day never knowing what the next will bring. Important therefore, to live presently and with passion - you are an inspiring example. Thank you. And Shana Tova to the Dauer family!